When the Ducks were struggling this season, GM Bob Murray took some not-so-thinly veiled shots at the team’s core players.
And after the club’s disappointing first-round playoff exit to Nashville, he was at it again.
The juicy stuff, from today’s presser following the Bruce Boudreau dismissal.
“Let’s face it: I’d like to know where they heck they were in Games 1 and 2. The players are going to have to answer that the next four or five days. Where were they? They showed up in Game 7, but where was the passion, the controlled emotion? Where the heck was that? They’re going to have to be held accountable, too.
“There’s definite concerns in that area, and I think the core has to be held responsible, and they have to be better. Maybe I haven’t been hard enough on them in the last few years, but they’re going to hear some different words this time.”
Murray then shared a few of those “different words” with the assembled media.
If you’re looking for one of the core guys Murray may be referring to, consider Corey Perry.
Having just wrapped the third of an eight-year, $69 million deal with a $8.625M cap hit (that’s a long-term contract, right?), Perry failed to score over the seven-game series against the Preds, and had a team-worst minus-7 rating.
Say what you will about the merits of plus-minus, but minus-7 is minus-7. It’s not good. Hard to see how it could be viewed positively.
Of course, there’s no doubt other core guys are in Murray’s crosshairs. But it’s not just about core guys making big money and failing to produce in crunch time. It’s also about core guys making big money, failing in crunch time and not going anywhere.
Because that affects the futures of the players around them.
Some of Murray’s anger — justifiably — comes with the long-term deals he’s got on the books, and how they’ll likely hamstring the Ducks this summer. He’s already on record saying this will be an “interesting” offseason — Hampus Lindholm, Sami Vatanen, Rickard Rakell and Frederik Andersen are all RFAs, and it’s quite conceivable one or two won’t be with back in Anaheim for the start of training camp.
Had the Ducks made a legit playoff run, it would’ve taken the sting away from (potentially) losing players.
Consider what Murray said about retaining Rakell, who finished fourth on the team in scoring.
“In keeping certain people, other people may have to go,” he explained, per the Associated Press. “That’s what you get forced into. A couple of big contracts get signed, and you end up following because that’s what you get pushed into, and that’s what they expect.
“We are all guilty of that.”